Leaders of the Amaravati Parirakshana Samithi said they may further scale up their protests if the government tables the three-capital Bills again in a new form.

BJP leaders joining Amaravati padayatra, as Jagan govt drafts new capital BillsTwitter/BJP4Andhra
news Protest Wednesday, November 24, 2021 - 12:35
Written by  IANS

Despite the Andhra Pradesh government's plans to bring in a new and comprehensive legislation for developing three state capitals, farmers and landowners of Amaravati are determined to continue their protest, demanding Amaravati as the only state capital. Though the developments of November 22 morning -- when the state government withdrew the three-capital Bills -- had raised hopes among Amaravati protesters, the announcement later made by Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, that the Bills will be reintroduced in a new form, has not surprised them. 

For a few hours, many believed that like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who withdrew three controversial farm legislations, Jagan would also take back the Bills passed to create three state capitals. However, their celebration proved short-lived as the government made it clear that it remained committed to three capitals.

Farmers and landowners of 29 villages of the Amaravati region, who had given 33,000 acres of land for development of the state capital, have been protesting for more than 700 days and they are determined to carry on the protest till the government decides to have Amaravati as the only capital. The 'maha padayatra' by the protesters from Amaravati to Tirupati entered the 24th day on Wednesday, November 24. The foot march resumed from the Sunnapubatti village in Nellore district. The protesters say while the government's latest stand disappointed them, they have not given up.

"If the government tables the Bills again, we may plan a state-wide padyatra to mobilise support for our just cause," said G Tirupati Rao, general secretary, Amaravati Parirakshana Samithi, which along with Amaravati Joint Action Committee is spearheading the movement. The leaders also claim that growing support for their 'maha padyatra' has worried the government and it was creating problems as evident from the restrictions being imposed by police at various places. 

The foot march, which began at Amaravati on November 1, passed through Guntur and Prakasam district and entered Nellore district this week. It is scheduled to conclude at Tirupati on December 15. During the 45 days, the padyatra will pass through 70 towns and villages. The participants, who are covering 10 to 15 km every day, are receiving support from the major opposition parties. Two days ago, the BJP's state leaders also joined them.

The Assembly passed the Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of all Regions (Repeal) Bill 2021, repealing the Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of all Regions Act 2020 and the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region development Authority (Repeal) Act 2020.

However, the move was not to reverse the decision of three capitals but to overcome the loopholes in the Bill. The statements made by CM Jagan and then by Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath left no one in doubt that the government is sticking to its stand on three capitals. The rush with which the Bill was passed to repeal the two Acts was seen as an indication that the government feared that the two legislations may be struck down by the High Court, which was hearing more than 50 petitions challenging them.

The petitioners had challenged the laws on the grounds of being technically flawed as they were not passed by the Legislative Council, the Upper House of the state legislature.

The three-capital proposal came as a shock for the farmers relying on the massive promises of the previous Chandrababu Naidu government to build Amaravati on the banks of Krishna river as the dream capital and a world-class city. Farmers and landowners, who gave up lands ranging from half-an-acre to 50 acres, were left in the lurch. For every acre of cultivable land, they were promised 1,000 square yards of residential plot and 250 square yards of commercial plot with all the infrastructure. Almost all the farmers received the allotment papers but their dreams of owning developed plots remained on paper with the change of guard. They were also promised Rs 50,000 annuity per acre with an annual hike of 10%.

Read: Andhra Assembly withdraws three-capital Bills, govt to bring in 'improved' law later

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